Georgia State of Mind

From its founding in 1913 as Georgia Tech Evening School of Commerce, to 1963 as Georgia State College, it would be empowered by the University System of Georgia to only admit white students. In order to do this with the federal call for school desegregation, the university requested three alumni signatures as an admission requirement. This was fundamentally impossible for Black students to attain.

In 1950, Horace Taliaferro Ward would be the first African-American to sue for admission to the University of Georgia at Athen’s all-white law school. Although the federal court upheld UGA’s denial of admission, Wards challenge to segregationist policies would inspire the initiation and outcome of future suits.

In 1956 Black students Myra Payne Elliot, Iris Mae Welch, and Barbara Pace Hunt applied to attend Georgia State College of Business Administration. Their denial resulted in federal lawsuit Hunt v. Arnold. In 1959, Judge Boyd Sloan would hand down a judgement forcing Georgia State to remove its alumni signature requirement.

“[prohibits them]…from continuing to limit the Georgia State College of Business Administration to white students only.”

Judge Boyd Sloan, Beacon Light of College Affairs, January 23, 1959

The welcoming of Black students to GSU’s campus initiated school district and state-wide non-discrimination policies for all university campus’s. Still, Black, queer, and female students would fall victim to the discrimination of their colleagues and peers.